Derail Detail

Derail Overview photo Derail-Overview_zpsd9f5c60f.jpg

Reader Steve Lucas sent me some interesting information to help me detail my recently-installed derail on the coal track in Port Rowan. (Thanks, Steve!) Here’s a look at what I’ve done.

In a comment on a previous post, Steve noted that in the 1950s, the CNR would add a “D” to the target on the switch stand if it lead to a track that had an independently-controlled derail (i.e.: one that was not linked mechanically to the switch stand). They would also add yellow paint to the switch stand handle to remind the crew that there was a derail to unlock and clear. I found a “D” in an old set of HO Scale Herald King decals for a CP Rail gondola. The “D” actually came from the decal set identifier, which now reads “GON OLA”. Thanks, Herald King!
Coal Track switch stand photo CoalTrack-SwitchStand_zps8e67c6e1.jpg

It occurred to me as I was painting the handle of the S scale switch stand that I should mark the fascia-mounted turnout control for this switch in some way as well. Yellow paint wouldn’t do it, as most people don’t have to look too closely at the garden-scale switch stands to operate them. In fact, I can do it pretty much by feel. In any case, the turnout controls tend to be in a low-light situation when we’re operating the layout – in the shadow of the fascia itself. Therefore, I decided to mark the stand that controls the Coal Track switch in a tactile fashion, by adding a length of heat shrink tubing to the handle:
Coal Track turnout control photo CoalTrack-TurnoutControl_zpsd03e5c08.jpg

We’ll see if it feels different enough to remind people that there’s something special about the coal track siding. If not, I’ll cut this off and try something else – perhaps, a couple of narrow bands of heat shrink instead of a solid length of it.

Closer to the derail, I’ve added a couple of important details, seen here:
Derail Detail photo Derail-Details_zps9fb4bf16.jpg
(Click on the image for a larger version)

First, at left, is a length of rail spiked to the ties at an angle. Some CNR info from Steve notes that if a derail is placed close to the clearance point of the spur, or at the base of a steep downgrade, a guardrail must be installed to help divert successfully-derailed equipment away from the main track that the derail protects. I assume in this case that the farm crossing will get torn up rather nicely by derailed equipment, but that the equipment will eventually hit that guard rail and stay off the main track. In any case, it’s a very visible detail. I bent and filed the ends of the rail in the same manner that one does a traditional guard rail for a turnout frog and then glued and spiked it in place. I’ve given the rail a first coat of paint and will weather it after the paint dries.

To the right of the crossing, a yellow post marks the location of the derail itself. I cut a five-foot piece of S scale 4″x4″ lumber and shaped the top into a four-sided point using an emery board. I drilled a hole in the base for a .015″ piece of wire, and a hole in the scenery to mount it.

The photo also shows that I’ve painted the derail. I gave the block a coat of yellow, but the rest of it is painted with Neo-Lube. I didn’t want to use regular paint here, since that could gum up the sliding piece. As the name suggests, Neo-Lube actually lubricates the operating mechanism.

I’m pleased with these little details. All that’s left to do is mount a control on the fascia and connect it to the mechanical switch machine under the derail. Until I get that done, I’ll leave this detail in the “clear” position: I don’t want to put any cars on the ties by accident!

4 thoughts on “Derail Detail

  1. Nice touches – the photos are good, too. I particularly like the first shot, up the ramp.

    Some may quibble over the effort required for small details, but I think that they add to the overall scene. Although not immediately obvious, they can catch the eye – just as on the real railways.

    • Thanks Simon. Not only will they add to the overall scene, but in this case they’ll make a real difference to operation as well.
      I’ve barely started to detail the layout. I have fistfuls of figures to add, for example. But that’ll happen as I finish scenes. I’ve placed an order for some details that will help bring the Port Rowan section house to life, for example…

  2. Trevor,
    I love it when we start projects and we think we know about the entire project, how much more we learn as the community chimes in and increases our overall knowledge.
    Thanks to you and all the commenters for improving our knowledge base.

    • Hi Tom:
      You’ve hit on one of the things I like best about writing this blog. There’s all kinds of stuff I don’t know – in fact, I don’t know what I don’t know. But I’ve reduced the size of that Pile of Unknown by posting reports here and having knowledgeable people chime in. Whether it’s people like Steve Lucas who work on a real railroad for a living… S scale enthusiasts like Pieter Roos, Ed Kozlowsky, Peter Vanvliet and others who can point me to modelling sources… or folks like Monte Reeves and Mike Livingston, who have some personal connection to the line I’m trying to duplicate in my layout room… I would be much poorer without the contributions of the many commenters on this blog. (Thanks everyone!)
      It’s why I encourage others to blog about what they’re doing in the hobby. You never know where that next, wonderful, invaluable piece of information is going to come from – but you can be sure that if people don’t know you’re missing it, they won’t be able to help fill in the blanks.

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